Last month began the celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month. The observation started in 1968 under President Lyndon Johnson and was expanded in 1988 to cover a 30-day period starting on September 15 and ending on October 15.
During this celebration, it is important to note the disparity that the COVID-19 pandemic and hunger have had on this community. Latinx and Black communities were disproportionately impacted during the pandemic, as hunger rose despite federal pandemic aid.
It is also important to note the amazing Latinx advocates across the country who are leading the charge to end hunger and poverty. The following are 12 advocates we want to highlight.
After receiving thousands of supportive comments, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released their final rule, Community Eligibility Provision: Increasing Options for Schools, which provides 3,000 additional school districts the opportunity to offer nutritious meals to all students at no cost. Since its inception, the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) has been instrumental in eliminating stigma, reducing burdens on families and districts, and ensuring that all students have access to free healthy school meals, no matter their families’ household income level.
The final rule, effective October 26, 2023, lowers the eligibility threshold from 40 percent to 25 percent, thus increasing millions of students’ access to nutritious school meals. Newly eligible schools that want to participate this school year (SY 2023–24) are encouraged to work with their state agency to submit a waiver to USDA.
This month marks the sixth anniversary of Hurricane Maria, which had devastating impacts on Puerto Rico. Maria was one of the worst storms to ever hit the island and the deadliest natural disaster on a U.S. territory in 100 years. Since then, the island has seen earthquakes, tropical storms, and hurricanes, including Fiona in 2022, impacting and sometimes halting the recovery process for Maria. While the resilience of its residents continues, so does an increase in food insecurity.
Unlike in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the Virgin Islands, in Puerto Rico residents – who are United States Citizens – do not receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. Instead, Puerto Rico receives the Nutrition Assistance Program (NAP), which is structured differently from SNAP. This is a result of the Reagan administration’s severe budget cuts in the 1980s to what was then called the Food Stamp Program (FSP). Part of the budget cuts included excluding Puerto Rico from SNAP, which automatically reduced aid by 25 percent.